I saw a play a few weeks ago that was very interesting but not very good. One thing that caught me off guard in how it affected me, though, was a single line. The protagonist was talking to a priest who said, “It almost sounds like you don’t believe in God.” And the protagonist said, “No, I don’t believe in God.”
This in itself is, obviously, not a very original or smart line, but something about the way it was staged or said really got me. I was also really emotional that evening for whatever reason, so maybe I just overreacted. Still, I kept wondering what it was about this stupid line that made me flinch, and came to this conclusion: For years now I’ve been saying that I don’t know if I believe in God, and that I should probably really take time at some point and listen to myself and figure out what I believe in and what I don’t. But I’ve never done that, and that is because I’m terrified that the conclusion will be that I, in fact, do not believe in God.
That moment in the theater I was actually sure that, indeed, I didn’t, because the horrible things happening in the play made me think about all the horrible things happening on earth and I asked myself the typical question: Why would God let all of this happen? I still don’t have an answer for this. I don’t think anybody does.
I was brought up by very religious protestant parents. Still, I was never forced to go to church regularly or anything like that. We pray before every meal and religion was and is generally everywhere I looked.
I’ve wondered before if the way the church is omnipresent at all times in my childhood home might be one of the reasons why it’s hard for me to think of religion as something personal. I mean, my parents definitely think that way, but when something is your parents’ “thing” it can become difficult to make it your own, too.
The longer I think about Christianity, the more I hate big parts of it. Even though protestants like to think of themselves as somehow separate from all of the gruesome history of Christianity, of course we (they?) are still a branch of that church and it’s not all fun and games. I mean, how many has Christianity killed? Would the world be a better or worse place without it? All of this shouldn’t keep me from having the beliefs this institution has often failed to represent, but it does.
I’m not completely oblivious about what the Islam and Judaism and Buddhism stand for, but I don’t know a lot, either. Can I really know what I believe in when there is so much I don’t know? I mean, I guess I could, but obviously I don’t know shit. I should probably read up on a lot of things. I don’t think I would convert to another religion, though, not because I couldn’t see myself ‘changing’ beliefs, but because that would just be leaving one institution and its faults for another. I’m just so sick of these big institutions and their rules of what I have to believe.
There was a time when I was around 14 when I tried praying every night, and I honestly really hated it. It was a good practice for thankfulness and becoming more self-aware, but it never stopped feeling like a chore. Maybe it’s just the way I did it in my head before sleep, because my mind always kept wandering off and I wouldn’t let myself fall asleep before I was finished. It took ages and at some point I realised that it was ridiculous doing this when I didn’t like it and just stopped.
I also used to talk to God more, almost daily. Especially when I was in trouble, but also when something good happened to me or I was just unsure about something I looked out of the window into the sky (because, duh, that’s obviously where God sits on His cloud) and talked to Him. After a while I only did it when I was in trouble, and then I somehow stopped altogether. Why?
A few days ago, something good happened to me, but I don’t remember what. Maybe it was that it was finally sunny again or that I was just in time to catch a bus or something like that, but I caught myself looking into the sky and thanking God, and it was such a strange thing because I had completely forgotten the feeling it gives me. It’s the knowledge that somebody is there and looking out for you, like a wave of familiarity going through you. It’s similar to what it felt like when I used to have imaginary fairy friends who followed me around, which is kind of ironic to be honest.
I want to have that again, but there is so much doubt inside of me that it’s hard not to feel ridiculous. Whenever I think about the grand scheme of things and about the reasons religion was invented – that it was invented – I always conclude that God cannot exist.
I don’t even really know why I want Him to exist so badly. It’s probably something about how I just want everything to exist. Like, I’m willing to believe in ghosts and witchcraft (the good kind) and good luck and obviously aliens and everything as long as it sounds cool to me. I also honestly believe that the fact alone that somebody believes in heaven is reason enough for them to end up there, even if I doubt its existence. I don’t know.
Something else that bothers me about the church’s depiction of God is that he’s a “father”. I guess this speaks to a lot of people, but I honestly rather need God to be a loving mother. It’s not that I lack love or attention from either of my parents, I just like it better that way. To be honest, I kind of just want Them to be a genderless entity which is probably actually closest to the canon anyway.
Sometimes I think I should only write blog posts about things that I already have the conclusion to, but I’ve been struggling with this for years and I honestly don’t think that there is one. I just really need to start educating myself more and hope that I find some kind of resolution for myself so that I have a real answer if somebody asks me if I believe in God. But my beliefs are my personal thing only: they can be whatever I want and need them to and I’m only beginning to grasp this.
If you made it this far through my ramblings, I applaud and thank you. What do you believe in? What do you do about your and other people’s doubts? How do you even know what you believe in? How do you unite science and religion? I’m really curious, so let’s chat in the comments.